Happy New Year! Time to Cello-brate!

For me, 2017 is the year of the cello, because this is the year I started playing the cello again, after a 35 year layoff.  On June 3rd, I rented a cello and when I got home, I tuned my cello with a tuning fork (I found my tuning fork from 35 years ago!)  and played a C major scale.  It was out of tune, and scratchy in tone but it brought a tear to my eye.  It was so wonderful to play the cello again.

My lessons started on June 9th at The Catoctin School of Music.  Most memorable moment is when my teacher asked me sight read some music and my reply was, “I don’t remember how to read music” :-).

I’ve been surprised with my progress!  Even after 35 years, there is some muscle memory.  The bow goes in straight line, more or less, and my fingers know where to go on the finger board, more or less.

My “Premier” at the Loudoun Farmer’s Market 🙂

When I gave up the cello, there was no such thing as the Internet.  We had to buy albums (And I made mixed tapes of Saint Saens, and Haydn Concertos) and go to symphonies to listen to classical music.   In this regard I was lucky, we had two local orchestras, the Prince William Symphony and Fairfax symphony.  In fact it was seeing Mstislav Rostropovich performance with the Prince William Symphony that got me really excited about the cello.  Slava was bigger than life.  My brother played in the orchestra that accompanied Slava.  He told me about how Slava knew everyone’s part and would demonstrate different section’s parts on his cello!   I can picture Slava yelling in a Russian accent at the first violins, “No! Play measure 50 like this (as he demonstrates their part on his Strad). ”

Today, we have YouTube, Facebook, IMSLP…so many wonderful resources!  I watch the greatest cello performances, and take lessons from pros on the YouTube.  The Facebook communities are the most pleasant surprise.  Groups such as the Internet Cello Society, and The Apprentice Cellists Club are wonderful communities of cellists (ranging from concert cellists to brand new students) exchanging information and knowledge and support. Back in the day, my “cello community” was my school orchestra, my brother and annual gatherings for Solo and Ensemble Festival, All-County, and All-regionals.  Today, I am surrounded by virtual world of cellists who share the same passion.

A New Year’s post wouldn’t be New Year’s post without resolutions.  My cello resolutions for the year:

  1. Practice, at the minimum, 7 hours a week
  2. Practice with discipline at least 5 days a week (fundamentals, scales, etudes, practice journals).  2 days a week are fun practices to learn music like by the Beatles, music from La La Land.  And most importantly, learn music my wife enjoys.
  3. Play a duet with my classical guitar playing daughter
  4. Play or at the very least audition for an orchestra.

And in the bigger scheme of things:

  1. Contribute positively to the cello and music community (real and virtual)
  2. Be a role model for others that it is not too late to start playing an instrument.
  3. Be an advocate for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Music and Arts are a necessary part of the education program.

Thank you to my wonderful wife, Michelle, who encouraged me to play the cello and take lessons.  She knows I need this in my life.  To say I am lucky is an understatement.

Happy New Year, my fellow cellists!  I hope you learn new music, learn the vibrato, master string crossings, play in an ensemble or an orchestra.  And more importantly, I hope the new year brings you health and happiness.

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